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Consumer-related stocks to shed some light on spending

RETAILERS will be very much in the spotlight again this week, with trading updates expected from the great and good of the supermarket world and retail sales data expected to shed more light on the high street picture.<br /><br /><strong>Tesco</strong> will get the ball rolling tomorrow when it releases its first quarter sales data, but is widely expected to fall short of rival <strong>Morrison&rsquo;s</strong> 9.2 per cent increase in like-for-like sales. But analysts at UBS remain positive, saying that there could be a favourable impact on sales from the Clubcard relaunch and that the retailer could be on course for another profit increase this year.<br /><br />Also tomorrow, <strong>Whitbread&rsquo;s</strong> annual meeting is expected to be accompanied by a trading update. The stock has picked up during the recent market rally, but not enough to save it from relegation from the FTSE 100. Some investors went cold on the group after it said it had seen a slowdown in trade from hitherto recession-proof Premier Inns business.<br /><br /><strong>J Sainsbury</strong> reports its first quarter sales on Wednesday, and is generally forecast to prove its resilience.<br /><br />Wednesday&rsquo;s unemployment data is expected to show that Jobseekers allowance claims rose by 65,000 in May, taking the figure up to 1.58m.<br /><br />This would be up from an increase of 57,100 in April, but less than half of the 136,600 jump seen in February.<br /><br />&ldquo;The claimant count unemployment rate is seen rising to 4.9 per cent in May from 4.7 per cent in April, taking it to its highest level since October 1997,&rdquo; said Global Insight&rsquo;s chief economist Howard Archer.<br /><br />Meanwhile, unemployment against the closely-watched International Labour Organisation measure is seen rising to 2.25m, giving an unemployment rate of 7.3 per cent. Also out on Wednesday are the minutes of the June meeting of the Bank of England&rsquo;s Monetary Policy Committee, which will be scrutinised for signs of optimism about a recovery.<br /><br />Thursday will see <strong>Cadbury</strong> give the market a second quarter trading update, with analysts predicting a sizeable improvement on the first quarter, helped by the later Easter.<br /><br />Transport group <strong>Go-Ahead </strong>will also give a trading update, <strong>Carnival</strong> will report its second quarter results and retailer <strong>Arcandor</strong> will update on its first-half sales performance.<br /><br />Finally, retail sales data for May are forecast to have grown at a reduced rate of 0.3 per cent year-on-year, down from 0.9 per cent growth in April.